Here We Go Again: Dow Dives As Stocks Near A Bear Market

Updated at 2:41 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell sharply yet again Wednesday after staging a rally a day earlier. Major indexes were down about 20% from their recent peaks in February, putting the stock market near bear market territory.

Just on Monday the stock market had its worst drop since 2008 amid fears that the growing spread of coronavirus would push the global economy into recession.

The blue chip index was down more than 1,300 points, or 5.3%, in afternoon trading. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down more than 4.5% each.

Early Monday afternoon, the World Health Organization declared that the disease COVID-19, caused by coronavirus, is a pandemic. As of Tuesday, the WHO was reporting about 120,000 cases in 114 countries on six continents.

The Dow rose 1,167 points, or 4.9%, on Tuesday — a partial rebound from Monday’s more than 2,000-point drop, which was a stunning loss of about 7.8%.

The airline industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus, as people and businesses cancel travel plans. In an interview with NPR’s Peter O’Dowd on Wednesday, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes compared the impact to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“I would say we’re in the middle of a very significant impact, some would say devastating impact, to the airline industry,” Hayes said. “There were lots of concerns just after 9/11 about flying. And we’re really seeing the same now with the coronavirus.”

But he said the industry is better able to withstand the economic shock than it was during the financial crisis. “It’s pretty healthy. We’ve all built stronger balance sheets. We’ve all got good liquidity. And so I think the economic backdrop for airlines is very different,” Hayes said.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks have been cutting interest rates, and the U.S. and other governments have been rolling out aid and stimulus proposals to help cushion the economic blow of the outbreak.

The Bank of England was the latest central bank to lower rates, announcing an emergency 0.5-percentage-point cut on Wednesday. It said the cut “will help to support business and consumer confidence at a difficult time, to bolster the cash flows of businesses and households, and to reduce the cost, and to improve the availability, of finance.”

Oil prices, which can reflect economic demand, have also been volatile after Saudi Arabia unexpectedly decided to slash its prices for crude last weekend. The price of Brent, a global benchmark, was down more than 2% Wednesday. It has fallen 27% over the past five trading days.

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